EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
One year into the bitterly divided 117th Congress, Democrats and Republicans in both chambers have shown rare signs of agreement on an overwhelmingly popular issue. And even more unusual: It’s a push to hold themselves accountable. Earlier this month, lawmakers from both parties in both the House and Senate introduced bills that would stop federal legislators (and, in some cases, their immediate family members) from trading individual stocks while in office.
The legislation comes not a moment too soon. More than 40 percent of members of Congress own individual stock shares, amounting to $225 million in assets. And one of the few things that Americans approve of less than Congress itself is the idea that its members can play the stock market. In one survey, just 5 percent of voters said they believe that members of Congress should be allowed to trade stocks.
It’s no surprise: In recent years, there have been highly publicized, troubling instances of lawmakers getting rich off trading. Like when then-Senator Kelly Loeffler unloaded millions in stock within days of a January 2020 briefing on the coronavirus—and shortly thereafter, picked up between $100,000 and $250,000 in stock in a remote-work software company.
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.